This is the last post I will be writing because all my objectives with this blog have come to fruition. Education is always going to be an issue in Delaware, as it should be. The learning environment for children and teens should always be one of the most paramount issues of our state. I actually prayed this day would come for years!
Thankfully, under Governor Williams, we have abolished high-stakes standardized testing in Delaware. The days of DSTP and Smarter Balanced are long gone, and even Common Core has been stripped away from state standards in favor of a more wholesome and consensus driven learning system based on feedback from all Delawareans. The less rigorous expectations have shown students will thrive when they aren’t counted as data, but as unique and individual minds. Students at all our schools, traditional, vo-tech, and charter alike, are experiencing the true joy of learning.
Governor Kim Williams has increased the amount of business coming to Delaware and our state revenue has increased exponentially in the last decade since Governor Jack Markell was indicted on charges of fraud and abuse. Those were dark times for Delaware, but we have thrived since then thanks to the legislators who put the people of Delaware first.
Under the years of Governor Denn, crime in our cities has become virtually non-existent based on the initiatives he put forth during his time as Attorney General. This caused Wilmington to flourish and is considered one of the safest and fastest growing cities in the country. The city is alive at night, and citizens of all walks of life are always helping each other out. Once Denn cleaned up the drug situation, crime went away fast.
Under Secretary of Education Mike Matthews and the Senate Education Committee, led by Senator Sean Matthews, we have managed to reallocate funds to our classrooms so there are no more than 16 kids in a classroom. Special education is celebrated in our schools, and behavior issues are almost non-existent. Governor Williams Education Policy Advisor, Jackie Kook, recently took an inventory of all our schools, and found that segregation and discrimination are completely gone.
Teachers are able to do what they have always wanted to do: teach. Gone are the days of Rodel and outside companies telling us how education ought to be. We have taken the best practices of the Delaware Teacher Committee, led by Dr. Samantha Dahms, and parent satisfaction with our educators has never been higher. Parents no longer worry about opting their children out of standardized assessments because they no longer exist.
Recently elected for his 2nd term as President of the State Board of Education, John Young stated he always dreamed of the days when our graduation rates were up, drop-outs were a thing of the past, and our schools and districts truly collaborated with each other. Other board members, Elizabeth Paige, Steve Newton, Laurie Howard, Devon Hynson, Bill Doolittle and Eric Gustafson echoed Young’s thoughts when they passed regulations surrounding the dismantling of DPAS-IV into the DE-TeachFirst guidelines.
I recently ran into Kilroy, who was seen at the Christiana Mall listening to the Charter School of Wilmington Board Meeting audio recording on his IPhone 23. He told me he was proud of the 150th General Assembly for finally getting his bill passed for all school boards to have their meetings digitally recorded. Who would have thought it would take Head of School Jaques financial blundering at the Charter School of Military Kung Fu to get that one going! Kilroy still blogs, but only about the old days and all the dark secrets that have been uncovered since the blogger DelawareDataWipe finally hacked into the secret DOE email system developed during the Murphy days. Many have insisted the blogger was really Kavips, but nobody knows. Kilroy said he keeps in touch with Publius, who still advocates for his particular brand of “choice”, but is unable to post on his blog due to his unfortunate accident with a mixer while making a Shirley Temple. This jacked up his mind more than it already was, and as he was wheeled into the hospital he was heard shouting “It was my choice! Onwards to proficiency!”
Speaker of the House Trey Paradee and President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Brian Pettyjohn, are putting together legislation which would prevent any Governor of Delaware from being able to use funds the way Markell did during his reign of terror. US Senators Bryan Townsend and Matthew Lindell, as well as US Representative Eve Buckley, brought the legislation before the US Congress, and efforts are underway in our nation’s capital to implement these practices across the country.
Ever since Wilmington Mayor Charles Potter worked with Attorney General Sean Lynn on the Charter 2020 Bill, our charters have thrived as satellite schools of the 13 districts in our state. This prevented the practices of the past 25 years where charters were literally starving the traditional school districts of funds. State Auditor Brian Stephan, who brought all the charter fraud to light in the twilight of the twenty-teens, found new and innovative ways to defund and than refund all of the charters as new satellite schools of the districts.
The Education Hedge Fund Collapse of 2018 really was the trigger for the needed changes in our education system. This drove away the business speculators and investors and caused true change to happen. Some of them are still around, but they are finding it very tough to bring back the Baseball Card and Comic Book markets, especially since they didn’t seem to get the memo they are all digital now. Dr. Paul Herdman, last seen in Budapest, was trying to get his Vision 2050 thing going there.
The Parent Teacher Student Association, led by Dr. Teri Hodges and Yvonne Johnson, really got the ball rolling as they rallied parents and high school students to every single school board and state board meeting to scream for change. Ever since the House Bill 50 Override of 2016, parents began to feel more empowered after the REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE rally during the Blizzard of 2016 turned the Green in Dover into a Winter Wonderland campsite for thousands of parents. Even many of the legislators braved the storm and joined the parents and they talked for days about what needs to happen. Then State Representative Kim Williams, who gave a stirring speech for the parents, cemented her status as one of the great leaders of our state.
After that, the plans to turn Wilmington’s public schools into charters quickly unraveled, and as Red Clay, Christina, Colonial and Brandywine merged into two districts, the other districts and charters took up the mantle and discovered what district lines were truly best for the students in their areas. With overhead costs decreased, funding increased for students in those districts and classroom sizes started to decrease. The boards of the charter schools disappeared overnight, and charters soon became what they were originally meant for, models of innovation. Instead of wasting these funds, the districts wisely saved them and each district was able to not only fold the satellite charters into their district, but also have vo-tech and special needs schools within each district. As charter school teachers joined up with their local education associations, DSEA President Mike Kempski was able to actually lower union dues while adding protections in contracts against the manipulative practices during the No Child Left Behind/Markell years.
As Delaware’s economy and education began to flourish, it drove more families into the First State. During the housing boom of 2022, new schools were built along with all the new homes, and even Smyrna became a major new city in the state. As Christina Superintendent Twardowski said at the time, during the unveiling of the Stubbs Education Institute, “It is a new beginning for all the students in Delaware.” Even Secretary of Housing, Nelia Dolan, found the amount of work and construction in Sussex County to be nothing she had ever seen before. Secretary of Agriculture Nancy Willing made sure no farms were lost in the construction boom and that any waste and debris were properly disposed of without harming any of the wildlife in Delaware. Finding jobs for out of work Delawareans was Governor Williams first goal when she won the election of 2020 against William Manning after she devastated former Senator David Sokola in the landslide 542,828-16 vote in the Democrat primary.
Even the Delaware Diversity College, opened on the site of the bankrupt Dover Downs corporation, was filled to capacity in it’s first year thanks to the hard work of Chancellor Elizabeth Lockman and the donations of Bank of America CEO Tony Allen. They even opened another campus at the former site of Warner Elementary School in Wilmington.
Last month, the State of Delaware celebrated the first ever Education Fiesta in Delaware. As the old guard saluted the new, we all remembered what it took to get here. We all found that heart and conversation were the true things needed to change education in Delaware. Lieutenant Governor Jeffrey Spiegelman said it best: “We had to change. Our students, Delaware’s future, they couldn’t wait. We had to expose the rot and replace it with something new and innovative. There was no place for political agendas and sticking with party lines when it came to our children. Now we can truly be a model for the rest of the country to follow.” Even President Trump raised his glass for that!
My son is about to graduate college, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. He made it through the darkest times in Delaware, and emerged triumphant. This dad has never been prouder. We are going to Equity Stadium in Middletown tonight to watch the Delaware Opt-Outers host their first Major League Baseball All-Star game! Vice-President Kowalko is even expected to throw the first pitch!
Thank you to all my readers and fans. You made Exceptional Delaware what it is.
Director of Special Education
Delaware Department of Education
July 6th, 2025